Revisiting Participatory Forest Management and Community Livelihoods in the Kilum-Ijim Montane Forest Landscape of Cameroon

Jude Ndzifon Kimengsi, Moteka Paul Ngala

Abstract


The natural resource –livelihood sustenance link has received significant scientific attention. Specifically, the question of how forests should be managed in relation to the livelihoods of adjacent communities has been one of the burning issues in the field of conservation and rural development. Thus, participation in forest management is not a recent issue in human history. The concept has evolved significantly since the 1970s due to the alarming rate of deforestation and forest degradation which was registered in most forest regions of the world. Given the significant interest, several approaches to forest management have been applied. For instance, the leviathan approach compelled adjacent communities to adhere to conservation considerations with limited consideration for community livelihoods. Participatory Forest Management (PFM) as a concept has been applied in different contexts with diverse outcomes. Although it is considered relevant in conservation and poverty alleviation, in the context of humid montane forest ecosystems such as the Kilum-Ijim, a scientific analysis of its potential contribution to rural livelihoods is required against the backdrop of increasing demographic pressure and the need to secure livelihoods. In this study, we undertake a systematic sample involving 250 household representatives around the Kilum-Ijim forest Landscape. This was complemented by field observations, interviews of local conservation groups and the consultation of secondary data sources. The data were analysed using the Z-test. The results showed that at 0.05 level of significance, a significant relationship does not exist between aspects of participatory forest management such as tree planting and nursery establishment, and the generation of income in the Kilum-Ijim montane forest landscape. Equally at 0.05 level of significance, a link was established between the creation of forest management institutions and employment generation. Finally, at 0.05 level of significance, there is significant relationship between the exploitation of forest resources and standards of living of communities adjacent to Kilum-Ijim montane forest landscape. The conclusion drawn is that considering the inextricable link between the forest and livelihoods, local coordination efforts should be stepped up to restrict further encroachment into the forest. In addition, trees that are economically and environmentally attractive should be considered during re-afforestation as they can support livelihoods.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijgs.v2i1.12766

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